Acupuncture And Pain Relief
Let's be real here: Attending frequently with chronic low back pain can be distressing for both patient and doctor. Because conventional treatment options tend to be ineffective and limited, many sufferers now seek help from licensed acupuncturists, who have repeatedly provided the safest, quickest, and most effective treatment available. The secret to its effectiveness, however, lies in our brain.
It's common knowledge that acupuncture relieves pain and treats migraines, but until recently, we didn't know why - the mechanisms of acupuncture responsible for pain reduction were unclear. Dr. Aziz Asghar and his colleagues at the University of York and the Hull York Medical School discovered that it may be because of acupuncture's ability to deactivate areas in the brain associated with the processing of pain.
Their 2010 study, published in Brain Research, revealed that patients receiving acupuncture treatment experience a sensation known as "deqi", which triggers changes in certain neural structures, leading to the aforementioned brain deactivations. "The results are fascinating," says Asghar, who believes that the new research will help raise awareness of acupuncture as a widely accepted treatment option for patients with various ailments. "Whether such brain deactivations constitute a mechanism which underlies or contributes to the therapeutic effect of acupuncture is an intriguing possibility which requires further research," he adds.
Coping with Pain through Acupuncture
Another study, presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, confirmed the beneficial impact of acupuncture on reducing pain. Researchers in Germany utilized functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare 18 individuals, who agreed to take part in the study, to determine how the brain processes pain with and without acupuncture.
During the fMRI sessions, scientists captured pictures of the brain while patients were exposed to an external pain stimulus. The interesting part? The obtained data revealed that significantly reduced was not only the pain perception, but the patient's expectation of pain, too.
"Activation of brain areas involved in pain perception was significantly reduced or modulated under acupuncture," explained Dr. Nina Theysohn, who led the research at University Hospital in Essen. "Our findings support that both these nonspecific and specific mechanisms exist, suggesting that acupuncture can help relieve pain."
Related articles & videos of interest:
University of York. "Study maps effects of acupuncture on the brain." ScienceDaily, 5 Feb. 2010. Web. 25 Aug. 2011.
Radiological Society of North America. "Acupuncture changes brain's perception and processing of pain, researchers find." ScienceDaily, 30 Nov. 2010. Web. 25 Aug. 2011.
JAMA and Archives Journals. "Real And Simulated Acupuncture Appear More Effective Than Usual Care For Back Pain." ScienceDaily, 15 May 2009. Web. 25 Aug. 2011.
About the author
James Schreiber raises awareness of chronic candidiasis. Learn more at http://www.ecandida.com/candida-albicans/